Tulane-partnership-with-FitLot-provides-students-with-assessment-experience-in-aging-populations

Tulane partnership with FitLot provides students with assessment experience in aging populations

Transforming the built environment of a community can make a difference in how citizens feel about accessibility of physical fitness. Since the start of March, Tulane University School of Public Health and Tropical Medicine faculty and students have been engaging with local participants of The FitLot Method Program, an outdoor, group fitness program designed to meet the needs of adults 55 years and older. FitLot, a longtime community partner of the Tulane Prevention Research Center (PRC), is a nonprofit based in New Orleans that works with communities to build outdoor fitness parks and promote physical activity that is free and accessible to the public.

"This program is a great way to involve our students, studying aging, in ongoing community health interventions. Our collaboration with FitLot is focused on assessing standard measures of physical fitness as well as investigating attitudes toward physical activity in aging populations," said Jeanette Gustat, who is leading the assessments and is a collaborating faculty member at the Tulane PRC.

The assessments, funded through Tulane's Center for Public Service to support student community involvement, follows The FitLot Method participants through their exercise journey from baseline, to mid-point, through the end of the 12-week program. The Tulane team sought out training from experts to be well-versed in standards of physical fitness tailored to typical aging populations. Measurements— flexibility, balance, and endurance— consist of a 30 to 40-minute workout while digitally recording repetitions and the time they take to complete it. The first March intake session recorded a baseline for both new participants and returning participants.

As Adam Mejerson, founder and executive director of FitLot, enthusiastically puts it, "We first started the program simply to provide access to a fitness coach who could teach people how to use the FitLot safely and effectively. We expected to see the participants get stronger, but what has been really remarkable has been the relationships that have developed during these workouts."

In partnership with AARP Livable Communities and AARP Louisiana, FitLot received a grant to fund this particular 12-week program. The "lot" (pictured above) where The FitLot Method Program is held is located along the Lafitte Greenway, is free and open to the public, and has other regularly scheduled activities that attract users of all ages.

All involved in this collaboration speak highly of the camaraderie among the adults that show up to work out on Monday, Wednesday, and Friday mornings. "Our group of dedicated participants have become a team and are encouraging each other, teaching each other and really supporting one another," said Mejerson. "It seems like people started coming to the classes for the instruction and then keep coming back for the group."

"The trainer really tailors the workouts to each individual with the aim of improving overall functionality and health," said Gustat. "As the program progresses, we are looking forward to seeing if and where improvements are made through their model of training."

The FitLot Method Program is still recruiting participants to join the group fitness sessions, and more information can be found here.

By Emily Szklarski, Tulane PRC Communications Research Assistant
April 2018

Topics:   built environment , community health , physical activity

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